Khabib Nurmagomedov has a warning for UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor: Take the money and run.
With McGregor's future still uncertain and Nurmagomedov poised for his first-ever pay-per-view main event, the grappling specialist is marking his territory right now. And he said the Octagon is no place for McGregor in 2018.
"I don't know why they talk about this. A lot of people call him like a king, but he's not like a king. He's now Burger King. Now he's Burger King," said Nurmagomedov to Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole (h/t MMAWeekly.com for the transcription). He continued: "He has money, he's already the UFC champ, he's a two-division champ, everything is good. Stay away. This is not a Burger King's sport. This is for real fighters."
Nurmagomedov's barbs are in reference to McGregor's recently released ad spot for Burger King's spicy chicken sandwich. While the commercial itself was fun—with McGregor smack-talking the burger before devouring it—the fact he continues to be in the spotlight without competing seemed to irk a number of fighters still caught within his gravitational pull.
The Russian, though, has no direct history with McGregor and is at least pretending to be indifferent on the subject of his return.
"I don't think he's going to come back and fight [a] real fight. I think he wants easy fights like when he fights [Floyd] Mayweather," he said. "He don't need to come back preparing for five rounds, versus [a] tough wrestling guy who is going to take you down and smash your face. ... Why does he have to come back for somebody to smash his face? Stay away from this."
Though McGregor's immediate future is uncertain, all signs are still pointing to a UFC return for the Irishman. As for Nurmagomedov, there's no question as to what's next for him.
On April 7 in Brooklyn, New York, he will face interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson in one of the most highly anticipated bouts in recent UFC history. If he can come out on top there, we might just see them face off for the lightweight throne (though the Burger King crown likely won't be up for grabs).